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Well, that was an incredibly frustrating game.Â I was prepared to see an offense that continued to struggle and a defense that gave up points after getting tired.Â I was prepared to admit that Michigan just wasn’t that good; that the change in coaching and system, when combined with a large loss of talent, would mean a real rebuilding year for the first time since I can remember.
What I was not prepared for was an offense that looked the best they have this season, who moved the ball practically at will, but a catastrophic inability to hang on to the football resulting in an ugly lopsided loss.Â That Michigan would gain more first downs, more yards, and control the ball longer that ND and still lose by 18 points never really entered my mind.
As I told a friend, I would rather that Michigan had just played flat out poorly all around and then I could just write the year off.Â Now I have no clear idea how good this team is (assuming they could find a way to quit self-destructing).Â I know that is a big if but, with all the caveats playing ND involves, even in a downpour that looked like an offense that could actually succeed in the Big Ten.Â And the defense is far from dominant, but if they are not constantly put in terrible positions, I think they can hold their own.
Unfortuneatly, we now have to wait two weeks to play Wisconsin and see just how good a team we are dealing with in Michigan.Â As I said, frustrating.
- I thought Steven Threet played very well.Â Some nice throws and generally seemed to run the offense.Â Yes, there were the fumbles in a wet game, but I think he should be the sole starter from here on out.Â I felt like Michigan could win the game with him as QB; he made some clutch plays under a lot of pressure (big game, on the road, bad weather, down big early, etc.).
- Mcguffie is emerging as a real weapon.Â Quick but surprisingly strong.Â Dangerous in both running and passing game.
- Uh, the turnovers.
- Giving up some big plays over the top on defense makes me nervous.
- The kick and punt returns continue to struggle.
- I hope the injury to Threet is not serious.
- D line didn’t seem to get a lot of pressure.Â ND is far from the best O line Michigan will face and they will have to get pressure.
The other bad news is this puts a dent in Michigan’s quest to make a bowl game.Â With nine Big Ten games left they would have to go 6-3 just to get to 7-5.Â That is a tall task.Â Assume they beat Toledo, Purdue, Minnesota, and Northwestern – no gimmies but not the top of the conference – then they have to find a way to win three games from Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan State and at Penn State and Ohio State.Â The most likely scenario is to beat those first three teams at home, but even that seems like a stretch.
The good news is that Michigan has two weeks to get ready for Wisconsin.Â Rich Rodriguez is going to have get this team ready to cut out the critical mistakes if he wants to make a bowl game even in a down Big Ten.Â And despite the ugly result on Saturday, optimistic fans may have seen just enough to believe such a thing is possible.